On February 10, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Judicial Redress Act, which had been approved by the Senate the night before and included a recent Senate amendment. The House of Representatives previously passed the original bill in October 2015, but the bill was sent back to the House due to the recent Senate amendment. The Judicial Redress Act grants non-U.S. citizens certain rights, including a private right of action for alleged privacy violations that occur in the U.S. The amendment limits the right to sue to only those citizens of countries that (1) permit the “transfer of personal data for commercial purposes” to the U.S., and (2) do not impose personal data transfer policies that “materially impede” U.S. national security interests. The bill now heads to President Obama to sign.
The passing of the Judicial Redress Act is an important step that may help facilitate the approval of the new EU-U.S. Privacy Shield by European regulators. It also impacts the 2015 draft agreement known as the Protection of Personal Information Relating to the Prevention, Investigation, Detection and Prosecution of Criminal Offenses (the “Umbrella Agreement”). The Umbrella Agreement was conditioned on the passing of the Judicial Redress Act.
In addition to the private right of action, non-U.S. citizens have other rights that are granted to U.S. citizens under the Privacy Act of 1974. These include the right to request access to records shared by their governments with a U.S. federal agency in the course of a criminal investigation and to amend any inaccuracies in their records.
The Judicial Redress Act has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and numerous prominent technology companies, and had strong bi-partisan support.
Update: On February 24, 2016, President Obama signed the Judicial Redress Act into law.